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December 26, 2008

Grades in order for MSU

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season and not packing on roughly 10 pounds like I've done in the past three days. Now that we're less than a week from the big game, here's a story from our Christmas print edition about MSU's academic standing after fall semester.

   MSU obviously isn't getting into specifics, but it appears the classroom won't cost the Spartans any key performers against the Dawgs, as it did a year ago.

Joe Rexrode
jrexrode@lsj.com

    EAST LANSING – Late-breaking academic casualties marred Michigan State’s bowl preparations a year ago, but that scenario will not repeat itself this time around, MSU officials say.
    “I think we’re gonna be in good shape there, so that’s not gonna be an issue as it was last year,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said last week.
    “Coach (Dantonio’s) comment was right on. We look good,” said Jim Pignataro, MSU associate athletic director for student services, which oversees academics. “It’s not like last year. In general, we look good.”
    The fall semester ended Dec. 12 and MSU got its grades late last week. The Spartans play Georgia on Jan. 1 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
    MSU will not discuss specific athletes because of privacy laws, but Pignataro did say last year’s issues will be averted.
    Four players were ruled ineligible just before the Champs Sports Bowl against Boston College, including three contributors – star senior defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic, senior receiver Terry Love and sophomore receiver/defensive back T.J. Williams.
    Freshman offensive lineman Abre Leggins also was ineligible, and senior linebacker SirDarean Adams was ruled out of the game for breaking team rules.
    The Saint-Dic situation was a stunner for MSU because he had been a solid student and only needed eight credits in the 2007 fall semester to earn a degree in sociology.
    He passed a three-credit sociology class but said he came up short on the final exam in his math class and failed. By NCAA rule, Saint-Dic needed to pass six credits to be eligible for the bowl game, so he was ruled out.
    Had Saint-Dic taken an additional three-credit class and passed it, the math failure still would have kept him from his degree, but he would have been able to play in the bowl.
    “If I would have taken more classes I would have been fine,” he told the State Journal at the time. “But I came up two points short in the math class. Everybody has their subjects, and I haven’t taken math in five years. I studied and studied, but I came up short. It’s a shocker.
    “This is something I’m gonna learn from, I’m not gonna let it put me down. I’m praying for my teammates and I’m gonna get my degree (in the spring), and then I’m going for my master’s degree.”
    Pignataro said the Saint-Dic situation did not change his department’s approach in any way.
    “You can’t really change what you do when kids are in line to graduate,” Pignataro said. “When you have it set up like we did, sometimes a kid fails a class. …Usually kids (that close to their degrees) are good students and you don’t really worry about them.
    “Do I wish there was an appeals process? Yes, I do.”
    The NCAA six-credit rule debuted last year. Before that, Pignataro said, athletes in line to graduate could fail their classes and still play in a bowl game.
    Virginia Tech will be without starting left guard Nick Marshman in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, and Marshman already has his degree. He took six credits this semester as required, did not pass all of them and was ruled ineligible.
    As for Saint-Dic, he still needs that math class to get his degree. Pignataro said MSU tried to set up an online course for him, but it didn’t work out.
    He expects Saint-Dic to return and finish when he gets a chance. Saint-Dic was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs in August after going through training camp as an undrafted free agent.

    NOTE: Glenn Winston did not travel with MSU to the bowl game, associate AD John Lewandowski confirmed Friday. There's no further comment from MSU on Winston or his status.

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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